Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas in London - Belated and Extended

So, on Wednesday, my roommates departed in the early morning for six days in Venice and Munich. I woke up at 11 and got ready; it was time for my postponed Christmas dinner. At quarter to two, Christa arrived with what seemed like a truckload of supplies and luggage. She settled in and we caught up on the news and gossip and exchanged gifts (she gave me a Minnie Mouse plushie!). In between watching movies and more chatting, we worked on putting a meal together - turkey (we overcooked it so it was a bit dry but it was TURKEY - rosemary turkey done with a recipe Christa found online), mashed sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes (Christa peeled, I chopped, boiled and mashed them), and brussel sprouts (I boiled them - they were then mixed with butter and garlic). There was also gravy which wasn't so bad but we're not going to talk about that. Ever.

On Thursday, by the time Christa and I decided we wanted to go to the Science Museum it was too late in the day (decision making - not our thing) so we went to Shepherd's Bush and, while I window shopped, Christa picked up some belated gifts for her roommates. We came back to the house to finish up the leftovers and more movies and chatting. Really, we could have made movie watching and  chatting Olympic events and won the gold, I swear.

Friday we went to the Science Museum. Science Museums, if you've never been, are exciting and interesting. Science Museums, if you have been before, are basically more of the same. Technology is tracked through the centuries; steam engines are begun with John Watt and move forward until cars and space shuttles come about. Space shuttles mean space travel and that's a whole kettle of fish including how the food is stored, how  non-gravity is dealt with and how...basic human needs are met. There are generic exhibits explaining how the atmosphere, evolution, genetics, and so on work. And, of course, there's a flash to the future - where toilets will be able to  analyze feces and urine for signs of illness and update your doctor and shopping lists accordingly.

Christa finally left this morning after having spent (count them) three nights crashing on the couch - but we'll be getting together again at her place in just two days for New Year's. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I'll be Home for Christmas...

I'm dreamin' tonight of a place I love
Even more then I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
 Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
If only in my dreams

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family at home. Believe me when I say I am missing you terribly! Had several Skype calls today with family and I cried through two, cried after two and held it together for two. I was very impressed with myself. My roommates and I exchanged gifts in the morning and the rest of the day was rather uneventful - I worked on my writing and watched Doctor Who in between Skype calls home. It was a quiet day but, more than anything, it made me realize how much I really, really don't want to ever miss another Christmas at home!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Short Post for a Short Week

Last Sunday, I went out and got a new laptop from Argos. It had to be done; Grayson's battery was losing its ability to hold a charge, its power cable was having trouble connecting with the computer and its fan was in its death throes. So, I did some research, consulted my more in-the-know friends and retired Grayson-the-HP and bought Nightwing-the-Toshiba. Because, yes, I do indeed name my laptops...and my other technology too. I'm a namer. It's what I do.

So far, so good on the new laptop front. It's working wonderfully and, in a happy coincidence, my mom managed to work out how to use Skype so we've been doing that quite regularly ever since. Should be awesome for Christmas.

It was a GPS void week, and you all know how much I love that. I worked three days this week - Monday I was back at the awesomely well behaved Catholic school, Wednesday I was at last week's Islamic school in a much better class, and Thursday I went to Watford for an easy as pie half-day which, once again, included a fun filled journey where I of course hit a snag or ten before arriving at the school. Thank the gods that the secretary was willing to drive me back to the train station at the end of the day and I got to forgo getting lost...again.

Two weeks off starts now which, of course, gives me mixed feelings. I'm glad to have the time off to relax and recharge - plus, you know, holidays! - but at the same time that's a month of messed up pay (two weeks GPS void, two weeks holidays) and that makes me nervous. Still, it's still Christmas. I just wish I wasn't far from home and all. It's going to be rough, no question.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Week of H.E.L.L.

So, the movie and dinner plan with Christa fell through last weekend but it's all good - this week we went to see The Hobbit (which, in true Jackson fashion, lived up to its predecessors). The movie started at 10.45AM and we got out, I kid you not, at 2.00PM. We grabbed lunch at a peri-peri chicken place called Nandos where I had a wrap and Christa a burger. Good times that were beyond appreciated in the wake of a week that began okay but quickly descended into hell.

You know what? I'll back up. On Monday I had fairly good day going to a Year 1 class at a school I hadn't been to before. The teacher assistant was a big help and, while the plans for the day were a bit loose, I made do and had a pretty good day. Tuesday I had a job interview which flopped because I was told not to prepare a lesson plan by my consultant (although she denies this) and, lovely surprise, guess what the school wanted to see? Yup, my lesson plan. Happy camper I was not.

And this brings us to Wednesday - NOT a good day. At all. It was, in fact, my worst day to date. I was going to Clapham to an Islamic school and school started at 8.30AM giving me an hour to get there. No problem. The tube rides were a piece of cake, easy as pie, and then my consultant ordered up a taxi to collect me and bring me to the school. I waited half an hour, finally got a call from the driver who told me was there but didn't see me. Cue ten minutes of Marco-Polo and then a walk back to his taxi. I had to call my consultant and have her give the driver directions to the school at that point. Think about that for a minute - my consultant had to give the taxi driver directions. I got to the school, thank the gods, and then had to call my consultant again because, lucky girl that I am, I was being held hostage by the driver who didn't know how much to charge me. She had to yell at him to charge me SOMETHING so we could all move on with our days. He finally did (the taxi fare gets added back into my pay so, yay, no worries there) and I went into the school where I got to teach the wildest, most ill behaved class in creation. It was a year three class so the munchkins were like eight years old but with the monstrous attitude of twelve year olds. It was a HORRIBLE day.

On the bright side, Thursday and Friday I was at a Catholic school my roommates frequent and, thank all the gods, the classes on both days were great, the students so awesome and well behaved I almost cried for the reprieve.

And then came the weekend. The weekend with The Hobbit and Nandos peri-peri chicken and shopping with Christa. It was a beyond needed break after a week of almost pure hell. Thank the gods.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

*sigh* Sometimes it's a Circus Out There...

Monday I did PPA coverage at Derwentwater - Year 3 in the morning, then Year 2, and Year 4 in the afternoon. It's pretty neat having that sort of variety in my day, although it was just a bit too easy, sometimes feeling more like babysitting, really, than teaching. The Year 3 class, however, were hands down my absolute favourite class ever - the little darlings had NAME TAGS! I could have danced from the joy of it - all the usual awkwardness POOF! gone. The Year 2 class I had had before but basically all I had to do was supervise while they worked on their math assignment, then let them loose for lunch. The afternoon class, Year 4, was Guided Reading where the kids were split up into their groups and tended to themselves while I read with one group of five kids. After that, the pipsqueaks went off to practice their Christmas play and I supervised those kids whose parents didn't want them participating. They worked on a project about habitats, a bum deal in my opinion given what their classmates were doing. One half-hour, however, near the end of the day was taken for an assembly during which a priest told the kiddies about Advent. Fun times.

Tuesday I was back at Wembley in a reception class and Wednesday I had the day off. Turned out to be good thing, actually, since it meant I was home when the mailman came by with a package for me from home. My parents had gotten my name wrong on the package - again - but it contained Christmas gifts - pajamas and bracelets from my sister, an ornament, stuffed mini moose, and mysterious "Do Not Open Until X-Mas" envelope from my parents - so I'm willing to forgive them.

Thursday I got to go to a new (in the sense that I hadn't been there before) school. I got figure out the navigation on my own which worked out pretty simple enough - took  the tube for two stops and a bus for twenty minutes. I was doing PPA - so it was a Year 2 class in the morning (a little chatty but overall pretty good - they worked on acrostic poems in the AM  followed by a math lesson that was mostly just discussion and visual aid. In the afternoon I was with a Year 6 class. All they had to do was write a diary entry for their second day aboard the Titanic, work on some Titanic art and then it was PE. Simple. Easy. Piece of cake. Or it would have been if not for their attitude. Forget what else you might have heard - preteens in the UK are complete nightmares. Think spoiled rich kids without the riches. Absolutely, positively everything I asked them to do was an argument - "You're not the boss of me!" "Who died and made you Ms. Know-it-all?" "The Titanic sunk. Big deal - it was a hundred years ago! Can we get over it now?" "If diaries are supposed to be private, doesn't this whole thing defeat the point?" and on and on it went. I'm fairly certain they would have argued with me had I told them to bring water to the desert.

Which, of course, brings us to Friday when I was back at Wembley. I was in a Year 3 class and got a class renowned for their bad behaviour. Oh, they did their work, sure - but they did it with so much noise, so much chatter that by the end of the day half the class was crying from headaches and the other half were crying with frustration from having been punished for their inability to be quiet and listen. It was...not a good day. It was, truth be told, a lot like being a passenger aboard the Titanic - fun times. Thankfully, the TA and other teachers all assure me this delightfully hellish day wasn't unique to me - they're that noisy and disrespectful to EVERYONE - which made me feel loads better.

Nothing on the agenda for today but, yay, plan to go over to Christa's tomorrow for a movie day and supper.

I also have NEWS!! but I'm holding off on the sharing until things are more set in stone.

Until next time, my freaky darlings!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rough Week with a Fun Ending

This week was definitely on the more uneventful side of things right up until the end. Tuesday I was at Wembley - the school with the outdoor courtyard - in a Year 1 class that went very well. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent in Year 2 classes at Derwentwater - the school essentially around the corner from the house. Monday was in one class, Wednesday and Thursday were in another - and those afternoons spend in Nursery. I had high hopes of returning on Friday but by the consultant called I'd already been booked to go to another school by another consultant, conincidentally the same school one of my roommates was headed to. I really, really, really wish I'd gotten to go back to Derwentwater water instead. Friday was...well, it wasn't easy. The kids were very chatty and difficult to coral, but the only thing I actually had to teach was a mental math test - PE followed and the afternoon was pretty much free time and easy as pie.

Still, not an easy class.

Yesterday (and, I'd like to pause here to say: WOOT! It's December! T-minus, 23 days until Christmas!) I met up with Christa at Shepherd's Bush. We explored around some then caught Breaking Dawn Part 2 at Vue Cinemas. It was a great finale - it incorporated most of the book's major points, threw in the battle scene the book lacked, and I totally adored how they used graphics of a flipping book to tie the movie to its origins at the end scene. Afterward we went to supper (after wandering around trying to find some place that struck both our fancies) at an oriental buffet called Aroma right there in the mall. It was very yummy and I wish I'd had room to eat more than I did. It was a great day overall - I had oodles of fun and really enjoyed myself.

Tomorrow it'll be back into the fray - hopefully my track record of five day work-weeks will continue!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Another week, another dollar

Another week, another five days of work, and this time around all five were at Wembley.

Monday and Tuesday, I was back in the second of last week's Year 3 classes. The class was so good Monday morning, I thought it likely the children had been replaced by alien replicas. The teacher's absence was sudden, so the lesson plans were provided by the teacher next door and I modified them as needed as I taught them. Literacy (in which they wrote their own stories based on a picture and then read the myth of Theseus) and Numeracy (which was more work on how to tell time) went very, very well. But the afternoon was a disaster - it was physical education and their former wildness returned with a vengeance.

Tuesday proved to be more of a balance, behaviour wise. Literacy went exceptionally well - the students were shown a short cartoon summarizing the myth of Perseus and Medusa and then were asked to recount the myth in writing in their notebooks. They did an amazing job! Numeracy was more work on telling time, which also went well, and the end of the day was History - they compared Athens to Sparta. I was a very happy teacher and was pleased with the students' work not only then but for the day as a whole.

Wednesday I was in Reception - in the fourth class, as a matter of fact. Consequently, I  have now completed my tour of the Reception classes; I have officially taught all four groups, have replaced all four teachers, at one time or another. The class was learning about the Three Little Pigs, focusing on speech bubbles, and about addition - how to do it, how to write it. After lunch, it was decided to bring the kids outside for a spell after they had an indoor recess. Downside here was that said indoor recess was on account of rain and, while it wasn't raining more than a drizzle at first, there was still mud all about and within fifteen minutes the rain was back to a regular pore and this led to a bunch of wet, muddy children. Who had had a lot of fun getting that way.

Thursday and Friday I was in a nursery. Nobody threw up this time and both days we watched YouTube videos about the 5 Speckled Frogs and prepositions (Thursday - Where's the Monkey?) and days of the week (Friday - set to Addams' Family theme). We also watched Dumbo - which I swear I remember as being longer. Each day had two classes - one in the morning, one in the afternoon - so it was a bit of wash/repeat going on but that wasn't such a bad thing. A teaching assistant and nurse were present in the classroom at all times, so there was a plethora of adults and help about, which is always nice.

On a completely different note, outside of the classroom I had another problem going on. When I got my payslip this week, I noticed the rent hadn't been included among the expenses, so I messaged JSA to let them know. The reply was swift and, hey, what do you know - while they were looking into it they realized they'd had me in the wrong tax bracket all this time. Apparently, they never corrected a mistake they had told me about - and supposedly fixed - back in September and were thus under the impression that I was working another job. They had to correct that as well and ended up owing me almost £300 from overtaxing. I was a very, very happy camper. ^^

No plans this weekend - taking it off to rest and relax - and so far no bookings for the week ahead. Hopefully, that will change soon. Until next time, my freaky darlings, adieu!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Five Days

Finally, FINALLY I managed to snag five days of teaching assignments. I was pre-booked Tuesday through Friday at Wembley; two Year 3 classes followed by two Reception classes - apparently my consultant's goal is to have me meet every student in that school by having me teach every class by Christmas. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, my week began with an unknown Monday. I went to the station, waited as per usual, and almost at the last minute got a call asking that I go to Minet. No big deal that; just had to go to Ealing Broadway, hop over to the First Great Western line  to get to Hayes and Harlington. Unlike with Slough, I did not need to buy an extra ticket for this - Oyster sufficed. Switched to a bus and took it to the stop I was told and that's where the directions the consultant had provided me with ended. I was left standing at a crossroads with only the school's postal code - not even it's name - so I couldn't ask anyone for directions. I called back the consultant responsible for dispatching me and got to listen to a whole bunch of "bloody hell" mutterings as the poor man tried to find a search engine that would help him find how to get me where he wanted me.

I got to the school and what followed was pretty straightforward. I was in a Year One class, the students were more-or-less well behaved, I had lesson plans left by the teacher, and there was a teaching assistant in the room with me; in the teaching sense, it was golden. There were, however, some friction with the other adults. In physical education, for instance, I had just gotten my students in position for their exercises when another teacher came in and told them to stand up and put their shoes in the corner - apparently they did gym in bare feet which, to me at least, seemed rather risky to me. By the time I got the students resettled and ready to begin, their half hour period was down to half that. Later, at the end of the day, a woman - I don't know if she was a teaching assistant or another teacher or what since she never introduced herself - admonished me for opening the door to parents a whole five minutes early. Apparently, it was on "the sheet" and I should have read "the sheet" and known better. Except I never received any such sheet, was never told any such thing, and, when I asked the deputy head teacher about it at the end of the day she had no idea what I was talking about. Figures.

The rest of the week at Wembley was good. I did two days in two different Year 3 classes. The first class was learning about ancient Greece - I was in my element and nearly jumped for joy. In the second class - who were a bit more on the monkey side of things - I made the mistake of in math of accidentally giving the high ability group the low-level work and the low ability group the high ability work...needless to say math class did not go well, although the rest of the day did. Thursday and Friday I was in two different Reception classes. I like Reception well enough but I'm not a fan of how it's set up at Wembley - it's one big room with four classes sharing it, each one being designated a corner for lesson times, the pairs at either end being separated on by a short line of bookcases. It can be a challenge, therefore, for student and teacher alike to stay focused and not be distracted by the class just on the other side of a partition.

It was a great week overall though - I got to work, got to do so at the same school for the most part and even had an adventure getting to the new school on Monday. It was a good week and, hopefully, the weeks to come will be just like it!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

This Weekend I Geeked-Out. A Lot.

Yesterday...yesterday was an awesome day. I met up with Christa and the two of us went to the Victoria and Albert museum. Besides checking out all of their free exhibits (basically comprised of sculptures and artifacts from all over the world and various periods of history), we also went to their Hollywood Costumes exhibit. Now, if you  know me, you know I love movies. And that's putting it mildly. Now imagine going to a place where they displayed some of the most recognizable costumes from some of the greatest movies from the past century of movie making. It was like dying and going to movie buff heaven! I originally wanted to go because I'd heard that two of Scarlet O'Hara's gown from Gone with the Wind had been restored - one being her curtain-dress - and I wanted to see them before they returned to the US home. Turns out, there was so, so much more to see than just Scarlet's restored gowns!

Now, since photography was not allowed within the exhibit, I had to rip these photos from the exhibit's web page but, still, you get the idea.

The costumes for the entire  Addams family (minus Fester and Ma) from the 90s movie - even baby Pubert despite his airtime totally about ten minutes in the second film. Morticia's dresses in particular were pretty great - there were two, one detailed with spiders, the other with bats. I especially love how the costume designer was quoted as saying she went about designing their costumes with the idea that they were the aristocratic rich; they wore expensive fabrics and exquisite cuts that came together in positively beautiful clothes. They set their own standards and did it in such a way that made it clear that they were normal and it was the rest of the world that was weird. 
The first rule of Fight Club? You do NOT talk about Fight Club! Unless it's the clothes you're interested in. Then you're free to go to town. Imagine having one person, character, being played by two different actors who each embody very, very different personalities. Ed Norton's costumes were kept in greys and whites, more often than not a suit or a demure ensemble of another sort, Brad Pitt's in bright, vivid colours and mismatched thrift store finds. Not easy wardrobes to put together, but clearly someone managed. (You can see Fight Club's costume on the far right of both above photographs).
Several period gowns were on display from various movies, several of them worn for portrayals of   Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette. I loved reading about how the designers were challenged to incorporate historical fact, including in some case replicating gowns seen worn in portraits and such, while give each unique portrayals its own fresh designs and wardrobes. In some instances, even the fabric itself was chosen for a particular purpose, such as effecting a certain type of fall in the skirt. When it comes to period costumes such as these I personally think it's one of the times when the clothes really do make the character - face it, Mary, Queen of Scots just wouldn't be the same in jeans and a t-shirt anymore than Trinity (The Matrix) would suit the ballgown scene.

 A mismatch of leading ladies including: Audrey Hepburn from both My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany's (that's right - I saw Holly Golightly's little black dress!), Nicole Kidman's stage outfit from Moulin Rouge, the clothes both Jack and young Rose wore when they first appeared in Titanic, one of Kiera Knightley's dressed from Atonement, Dorothy's gingham dress from The Wizard of Oz, Sharon Stone's Basic Instinct interrogation ensemble, and both Cruella De Vil's "good" suit and "bad" suit from 102 Dalmatians.
 There was one big platform divided in two - one half focused on various costumes donned by Robert De Nero in some of his more iconic roles (Casino, Frankenstein, Taxi Driver), the other half on costumes worn by Meryl Streep throughout her career (Momma Mia! A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Iron Lady). Great contrast!
 See, now this was basically the part where Heaven surpassed its own standards. Not only did I see the costumes worn by Dracula (Gary Oldman) and Mina (Winona Rider) in Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Bride's track suit from Kill Bill (they washed the blood out apparently), Neo's I'm-the-One ensemble that he wore while rescuing Morpheus in The Matrix, and Christopher's Reeves' Superman costume but I also saw Jack Sparrow's clothes from On Strange Tides - who is only one of my all time favourite movie characters of all time. I had more posters of Jack plastered across my bedroom walls than I'm willing to admit - and there were his clothes within touching distance. Only way that could've been better was if Johnny Depp had been in them! Incidentally, they had another of Johnny Depp's costumes - the suit he wore as Sweeney Todd in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street coupled with commentary from the designer and Tim Burton himself in another corner of the exhibit.

And FYI: directly across from Jack Sparrow, set up high on its own shelf, was the Batman suit from The Dark Knight Rises. I think my brain actually stalled for a moment in awe when I first caught sight of it.
You know what's fun about exhibits like this? Even with a crush of people standing between me and the information blurbs, I still recognized each piece. These pieces included: Maximus' armour from The Gladiator (with a blurb explaining the tribulations the designer went through trying to maintain some level of historical accuracy while dealing with the realities of putting Russel Crowe in a Roman tunic), Charlton Heston's robes from his turn in Ben-Hur as the titular character, one of John Wayne's cowboy getups (apparently, the key to a good cowboy outfit is having the right boots, hat and Levi's - the in-between is irrelevant - incidentally, the cowboy and rancher costumes worn by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal respectively in Brokeback Mountain were also on display), and Mattie Ross's outfit from True Grit (her character mixes a few of her own pieces with those of her deceased father to come up with something more appropriate for Old West law-man tag-along). Best of all? Darth Vader. His whole costume was leather save for his helmet and chest apparatus which the prop department put together. Both were made from plastic and the helmet is actually a series of pieces to allow the actor to remove specific section. SQUEE!
Hands down one of the most iconic characters of black and white - not to mention silent - films, Charlie Chaplin apparently put the costume of the Little Tramp together himself on the way to the audition - the mustache he wears was to make himself appear older.
 Han Solo (Harrison Ford - called the "passionate hero" - unlike Luke, he does what he does for selfish reasons and his own self-interests and his clothes reflect his lifestyle), James Bond (Daniel Craig, Casino Royale - there was a build-up in the movie to the point where Bond dons his signature tuxedo, his outfits prior to that moment seeing him in more casual and course ensembles), Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger, T3: Rise of the Machines - I saw this and thought "My brother's going to flip" - he's a huge fan of the Terminator series and in each film, the Terminator's acquisition of his clothes is his first scene - these still had the bullet holes in them!) and Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty - apparently, in keeping in the tradition of the comics, which was drawn using only five colours, the 1990 movie only featured ten different colours - and each colour was only ever shown in one shade throughout - hence the yellow trench coat) - need I say more?

In the background, you can see Bruce Willis' blood stained clothes from the first Die Hard movie (one of my dad's favourite - probably second only to Die Hard with a Vengeance - I've only seen both so many times I've got them memorized start to finish), Will Smith's pilot jumper from Independence Day, and Tom Hanks' army fatigues from Saving Private Ryan.
This was the last splash of costumes with only one more costume out of frame. Austin Powers, The Blues Brothers, Borat Saturday Night Fever's Tony Manero, and Legally Blonde 2's ElleWoods were all represented and not only did they have the gown Kate Hudson's character, Andie, wears towards the end of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, they had her necklace - a diamond necklace with a yellow sapphire.
This was actually on the wall - it's the costume worn by Tobey McGuire in Spider-Man. According to the blurb, the designer wanted the costume to be at least somewhat believable as something a seventeen year old boy could patch together in his bedroom. On that point, I feel it was a total failure - nothing about this  costume seems remotely plausible as being created by a high school science nerd with an interest in photography - was that something he picked up from the spider bite along with the web-slinging and reflexes? That being said, it was still an awesome costume.
I love The Wizard of Oz. I love the Munchkins, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. I love Dorothy and Toto and the Wizard. I love Munchkinland, the Yellow Brick Road, and the Emerald City. I even love the Wicked Witch of the West, although I find Glenda a total manipulative bitch, and the sepia-toned beginning and end. The story is one I've always wished I could experience for myself - being carried off to a magical land, going on an adventure, meeting new friends, defeating evil witches - what's not to love about all that? And anyone who's even heard  about The Wizard of Oz, knows about the Ruby Slippers. Formerly belonging to the Wicked Witch of the East, the shoes transfer to Dorothy's feet after she drop a house on the witch and are ultimately responsible both for setting the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy and for getting her home again in the end. Their home for the last couple of decades has been the Smithsonian in Washington DC, so when I saw Dorothy's gingham dress with bright and shiny replica shoes, I thought that would be the end of it. But then I turned and saw these puppies - the original shoes worn by Judy Garland as she skipped down the yellow brick road, the same shoes she clicked together three times to bring her home again. I had no idea the ruby-like facets were achieved by dozens upon dozens of sequins. I may have teared up just a little. This was...this was even better than seeing the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum. Almost as good as walking the Coliseum in Rome. Made my day, my week, my month - possibly my 2012.

And on a shelf right above these shoes, worn by a mannequin laying on its stomach in her classic come hither pose, was Catwoman's costume from Tim Burton's Batman Returns, its seams ripped and torn as they had been at the film's end just after Penguin's failed murder attempt.

Like I said, Heaven.

You can read an article giving more depth on the exhibit here. I'll post another update soon about the work week. Until next time, my freaking darlings.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Return from the Break...*yawn*

I know, I know - it's been like forever since my last update but, to be fair, there's been nothing all that exciting going on to merit the sharing. My break was basically a bore - I spent the whole of it basically reading and writing with the exception of Friday when I ventured out to catch Skyfall. The cinema is surprisingly close by - just three stops away on the train - and the prices aren't too bad, at least provided I stick to matinee showings. Skyfall was definitely the best of the Daniel Craig Bond movies to date (although Live and Let Die is still my all time favourite) and I'm happy to say had a lot of the traditional Bond elements that have been missing from the last two movies, including Q. I'm still disappointed by Bond's apparent lack of humour - I miss the sarcastic wit he's possessed in the past, especially as Brosnan played him. Hopefully that will change with the coming installments - five more movies are set to feature Craig in the lead role.

To be fair, I had made other plans of the social variety - I had wanted to go to the Tower of London on Wednesday with some friends - but when my companions backed out for one reason or another I opted to postpone. Not one for the solo outings am I.

This week, as I've said, was another one where the GPS was void. Unfortunately, unlike the week preceding the break, this one didn't turn up as much work - I only worked three days (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday).

Monday was only a half day and a teaching assistant position to boot - I was back at the same school, St Marys, except with reception this time around rather than nursery.  I really like that school - the students are well behaved, the teachers are welcoming, and the school itself would be perfect if not for all the stairs. One little boy - an autistic student of the Year One class I'd done one-on-one reading with last time - came up to me on the playground during play time and asked if I could come back and read with him because he really liked that. I almost cried; it was so sweet!

On Wednesday and Thursday, I was back at Wembley - remember the school with the outdoor courtyard in the middle? - to do nursery and reception respectively. Nursery was actually two groups - one in the morning, one in the afternoon - and the kids were pretty adorable. One thing I don't like about the UK curriculum for the youngest grades is that there's no expectation of individual elaboration. What I mean by that is that the teacher gives small lessons - usually half an hour or less - about a particular topic (prepositions, for example, or subtraction) and then that's it; the kids just go off and play. During my practicum in a kindergarten room, there would almost always be some sort of one-on-one follow-up to the lessons, like the students writing in their journals or playing a math-based game with the teacher. It's odd not to have that follow-up happening and a little...underwhelming, I suppose, and disappointing too. Anyways, the morning went well, the afternoon less so; multiple students threw up in a domino-like sequence of events. Fortunately, someone else took responsibility for that little mishap and I was charged with occupying the remainder of the class. Thank all the gods.

That night I went straight from the school to meet up with Jeeves at Westminister station. This meant that I finally got my first look at Big Ben - it was literally right across the street from the station's entrance. Considering the hour, dark had already fallen, so you can just imagine how lovely it was to see Big Ben all lit up as it was against the backdrop of night sky. *sigh* Made me wish I'd had my camera but, since this was a last minute get-together, no such luck. I also saw the London Eye all lit up in blue lights and the Thames. We went to a cafe just around the corner from Waterloo station where Jeeves had a hot chocolate and I Coca-Cola (big shock). Conversation happened, but it was a short hang out - Jeeves had to leave all too soon afterward to catch a train to another meeting. I grabbed some McD's for supper and that was that. Came home to find the door's latch had been thrown, effectively locking me out despite my keys. Aggravating that, especially as it was only just after eight o'clock at night, but at least ringing the door bell proved effective.

Thursday was uneventful and Friday I didn't receive an assignment, so that pretty sums up my most recent going-ons. Like I said, not the most exciting of tales to relate. I've been reading a lot - and can I just say I positively despise cliffhanger endings - SO frustrating! - and writing even more. November is deemed National Novel Writing Month and there's a challenge - not for a prize or anything like that, just because, just to see if you can  - to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. In the past, homework has ultimately thwarted my efforts but this year I seem to have a surplus of free time and it's going pretty well; so far I have about 16,000 words written. Cue the HOORAH! here.

As far as next week goes, I already have work lined up (thanks to my awesome consultant) for Tuesday through Friday back at Wembley so it's only Monday that's a bit of a question mark. Hopefully something will turn up - fingers crossed!

Until next week, my freaky darlings!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Going Into The Break

I am afraid that this past week does not lend itself very well to exciting blog posts. Because of the week-long school break I am currently enduring, the week before and after it are (or were, depending on which one we're talking about at this point) exempt from my GPS contract. So, like I explained in last week's post, I get paid for what I work without the safety of being guaranteed a certain salary regardless. Add to that the fact that teachers are required to supply doctor notes for absences later in the week and that a lot of schools were closed Friday and it was small wonder the GPS was put on exemption.

Monday morning I was called and asked to return to the Islamic school and the TA position I'd held for the last two weeks for Monday through Wednesday. I was so unbelievably happy that my Tuesday and Wednesday were already booked with teaching assignments; I agreed for Monday and took it at our previously agreed rate. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was at a school I'd been at before - Wembley Primary (you may remember it as the school where I got off the bus too soon and I think I may have mentioned it as having an open plan where all the classrooms opened into a center courtyard...). The last time I was there it was to cover a Year Two class while the teacher prepared for parent interviews that night; this time around had me covering for teachers who were away at courses.

Tuesday featured me in a Year One class where the students were a wonderfully delightful bunch - and, compared to some of the older grades I've had, these students were complete angels. And so adorable and eager to boot! At the end of the day they danced to the Monster Mash and were such cuties playing at being zombies and vampires. I wish I could have caught them on camera!

Wednesday I was in a Year Six class which, naturally, featured the return of Attitude. You know, it's kind of funny because in Canada I loved teaching the older grades - you got to have actual lessons, you could easily incorporate popular culture to spice things up, and the students tended to be a lot more engaged in their learning. Not that I didn't enjoy teaching the younger students as well but I definitely found the older grades more of a challenge. Over here in the UK not only do the students not have the same exposure to popular culture (e.g. when I talk TMNT Raphael, they think I mean the archangel...if I'm lucky) but their attitude and complete disrespect for adults - and namely me - is almost impossible to work with. Most challenging of all, even if you manage to work things out with students individually the minute they're back among the peers the attitude resurfaces faster than a cork in the bath tub. It's exhausting and frustrating but I manage, thank the gods. It helped that this was one of the better classes.

On Thursday and Friday I accepted teaching assistant positions at a Roman Catholic school just a single train stop away. With the GPS void, I took the days at a severe cut in pay but I figured, what with the uncertainty of work, it was better to have something guaranteed than to hold out for teaching positions that might not happen - considering two out of three of my roommates were off on Friday I was happy I did so in the end. I was in nursery in the mornings until the munchkins went home at noon then it was an hour and half lunch break (I kid you not). In the afternoons I was loaned out to other grades - Year One on Thursday where I listened to student read books of their choosing and level aloud and Reception on Friday where I supervised the kids playing outside. It was a really, really, really easy two days.

The weekend kicked off with two of my roommates heading off to Paris for a few days. I went to the shopping district of nearby Ealing Broadway and, for the first time ever, got a library card. I took out Stephen King's Christine as my very first loan. What can I say? Cujo made an impression. I also picked up some pillows and stamps. You know - the necessities.

Since then, I've pretty much just been browsing the internet, working on my writing, and doing some chores around the house. I have plans on Friday to see Skyfall with a friend but otherwise my week is pretty much going to be more writing, reading, watching and browsing. Needless to say, I cannot wait for work to start back next Monday.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week Three and Kensington Palace

This week has been...well, I guess the best way to describe it is "lukewarm." Nothing major happened on the teaching front - I was back at the Islamic school for the week as a teacher's assistant in a Year Six class so I mostly marked, ran various errands and photocopied. Boring, but hey, I get five days of work and thus five days pay. Can't complain about that.

Speaking of pay, remember the mistakes with my paycheck I mentioned awhile back? To put it simply, my pay was short what I thought was £63. Well, it got to a fun point where I was dealing with three different consultants on the issue: Craig was out of the office and kept saying to talk to Wayne since Wayne sent me to the school, Wayne said to talk to Craig and Sean since I was originally assigned to their areas and Sean said he'd get back to me and stopped answering my calls and texts thereafter. I finally happened to catch Liam - the manager of the whole Northwest division I'm assigned to - one night when I called hunting Sean. Twenty-four hours later (Thursday night, if you want to be specific) he called back to tell me that they'd determined I was in fact owed £194 and the amount would be added to the next week's pay. Oh, and he also promised to put me back in the teaching ring so, yay, no more teaching assisting for me!

Incidentally, the coming three weeks are exempt from my GPS (Guaranteed Pay Scheme) contract because the week of the twenty-ninth is the half-term break. This means that I get paid for what I work, however many days that might be, and nothing more. This makes me nervous - I hate the uncertainty that these weeks will bring - but there's nothing to be done for it but tread carefully on the financial front. I've already been e-mailed by Liam and given work for Tuesday (as a Year One teacher) and Wednesday (as a Year Six teacher) so if I can net just two more days it will greatly abate my worries.

Today I went with a fellow Engage teacher - Nicole, who was the teaching assistant for the other Year Six class for a few days last week - to check out Kensington Palace. The palace is the current residence of Will and Kate and a couple of other members of the Royal  Family and, once upon a time, was the birth place and home of Victoria before her ascension. It had some wonderful artifacts and artwork and included several dresses actually worn by Victoria and Lady Di, among others. Victoria, as it turns out, was rather short. The palace's gardens were extensive and beautiful - but, with the chilly, rain-laced weather they were looking a more than little Autumn-ridden. The pond across the palace was filled with ducks, swans, Canadian geese, and gulls. When we first arrived around noon people were sailing miniature sail boats in its waters but they had cleared out by the time we left a few hours later.

Once again I find I'm looking forward to tomorrow, even as unknown a quantity as it is. I can't wait to receive my assignment - I'm even looking forward to the adventure that getting there will bring. Now that I've settled in, the paychecks are coming in and I have steady internet access connecting me to my friends and family I'm feeling a lot more confident and optimistic about this entire experience. Fingers crossed that tomorrow will see me working!

Kensington Palace Picture Post!

And now, for what I'm sure you've all been truly waiting for: Pictures! These are from my recent excursion to Kensington Palace - and by recent, I mean earlier today. Enjoy!

Me with the Prince Albert Memorial behind me!

A pair of Lady Di's gowns

View of the gardens from inside the palace

Me with the gardens and some of the palace behind me

Gloucester Road on the way to the palace

Kensington Palace and the Round Pond

Walk lane leading towards the palace

Lane way on the way to the palace

Me and Nicole standing in from of Kensington Palace

My back as I stand in one of the King's receiving rooms

Stairwell leading up to the King's Apartments

Swans in the Round Pond in front of the palace

The V&A Museum and Museum of Natural History on walk back to station

Sunday, October 14, 2012

London Calling Weekend!

Yesterday, hands down, was my best day since arriving here. I woke up at 9.30AM when my phone buzzed with a text message from my pen pal, Jeeves. He's been my pen pal since we were twelve years old and a mutual friend introduced us (she had met him on the NeoPets forums) and got us chatting via MSN Messenger. We'd never met before, however, on account of the ocean between us. We were supposed to meet up for the very first time yesterday at about two but the text message was to say his prior commitment had been cancelled, so we could meet even earlier. I had to do a load of laundry (stop snickering - it's true!) and I got a little bit lost on way to meet him at Tottenham Court Road but at exactly twelve o'clock noon (is that redundent?) I finally met my pen pal. I came out of the tube station to the street, turned right and there he was, reading a book.

I was worried that after all our chats and discussions online, in person we'd just be awkward and conversationally dry. Turns out it was a waste of perfectly good worry energy; it was just like one of our online chats but with talking rather than typing. I thought we got along great! We walked from the tube station to the British Museum. It had some wonderful exhibits. I got to see the Rosetta Stone, which is only one of the greatest discoveries in the whole history of archaelogy given how it pretty much singlehandedly allowed the translation of hieroglyphics. Also got to see dozens of statues, carvings and artefacts from all over the world and throughout history.  I especially loved seeing the Ancient Egyptian mummies and carvings - they even had the Book of the Dead, including the infamous judgment of the dead scene! 

Afterwards, we walked to a nearby bookstore called The Tea and Tattler that had a traditional tea room in the basement. Jeeves had tea and scones and I had a coke. You know, in Canada, scones are basically balls of dough baked with different filling or toppings - like (and usually) fruit or cheese.  Here the scone is still a baked ball of dough but the filling is now a spread - usually a thick cream and a jam or marmalade of some kind. It was a bizarre culture clash.

Next, we hopped the tube to South Kensington and checked out the Museum of Natural History. Can I just say that that museum really seemed to have a thing for dead rabbits? There were six or seven displays that featured stuffed bunny corpses for one reason or another and it got to be down right creepy. The dinosaur exhibit was something of a disappointment - they had two or three complete skeletons, a couple of robotic simulations, and a lot of bone fragments, but the bulk of their displays were photograph and graphic driven and didn't seem to have been update in awhile. The mammal exhibits, by comparison, were a lot more varied and informative. I especially like how many extinct animals were displayed either as skeletons or stuffed specimens or even replicas.

Jeeves had his father not long afterwards so I tagged a long with him to get my first glimpse of Covent Garden. It's a combination strip mall and market place that has everything from independent shops, tea and coffee imporiums and arts and crafts vendors to The Build-A-Bear Workshop, The Disney Store and The Apple Store.

We parted ways not too long afterwards and I walked up from Covent Gardens towards the Piccadilly Circus station. I stopped at a Pizza Hut on the way to grabbed a stuffed crust pepperoni and take advantage of their salad bar. Sadly, the salad bar had slim pickings but the pizza was yummy. Of course, when I left the restaurant the Piccadilly Circus entrance was gated and chained so, rather than risk getting lost looking for another entrance, I walked back to Leicester Square and caught the tube back from there.

By 8.30PM I was back at the house and calling my sister for the first time since jumping the pond. Found out my mom had seen my Facebook message about my getting hit by a car and was what you might call "a tad panicked." In my defense, she was at a wedding on Friday and I had been out and about most of the day. I had, however, called my dad on Friday and told him all about it. So, after I hung up with my sister, I called my mom (who is visiting family in Newfoundland - hence why she wasn't aware of what I'd told my dad) and let her know I was whole and happy. I tried calling my dad but got no answer - found out later when I caught my brother on Facebook that they'd gone out for Chinese. Did I get Chinese  food when my mom and brother left for a week to go to New Brunswick? Naturally, this required that I call my dad and whine about the unfairness. My brother, however, told me that my mom had called but insisted I keep trying. Finally got through, mind you, and actually got to hear my brother for the two minutes he took to yell at me for not calling more. Never mind that he does so much as e-mail me. Brothers.

Today, I've done nothing - just relaxed, watched YouTube videos, wrote blog posts, and recuperated from all of yesterday's walking. I'm looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow; I love working, especially now that my spunk is back, and I'm excited to see where I'll be going and what I'll be doing.

*sigh* I'm so easy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Week Two - Teaching Assistant and Slough

This week I spent Monday through Thursday as a teacher's assistant. I was at an Islamic school in Tooting Broadway working in a Year 6 classroom. It was interesting to see how the school brought religion into the daily routine - the students had Islamic studies every afternoon, Arabic lessons twice a week and Salut (prayer) before each lunch. It was a pretty good couple of days - I basically supervised, marked, and ran errands. All of the staff members were friendly and helpful; a good thing since the school was a freaking maze and I ended up needing to ask for a lot of directions. The hardest part of the whole experience was probably putting up with their attitudes - those kids took disrespect to all new levels! Oh, also the photocopier in the staff room was, no question, the single most evil piece of technology I've encountered to date. Every time - each and every single time - I tried to copy anything, the darn thing would misfeed and I'd have to open it up, play with its knobs and yank out the paper jam only to try again and get another misfeed. I finally figured out that things went easier if the paper was fed from tray two instead of one but still - yuck.

Today I went  to a school in Slough. I had to pay an extra £9 for the transport fare because Slough, being outside of London, requires that you switch to the national line services and then another £5 for a taxi to the actual school. I'll be reimbursed for the taxi but still - quite the chunk of change, you know? The school was lovely - it had a quaint small-town vibe going on although, once again, had innards like a maze. I was in a Year 2 class for the morning that went pretty well - I finally got my groove back and was no longer caught up in worries or home sickness which made teaching all the easier. In the afternoon, I did an hour in a Year 4 class where the students were sketching dinosaur bones based on randomly passed out photocopied images provided by the teacher. One boy got very upset when I told him he had to do the femur bone he and his partner had been given rather the skull being shared by the two students on the opposite side - he cried and said I was being mean to him. I explained how much more of a story you can get from a femur bone - you could see the scratches made by one of the creatures that ate him, see the wear at top of the bone that denoted the age of the dinosaur. It really got him interested in the importance of the bones in telling the story of the one particular dinosaur. I ended the day in a Year 6 class who, again, had the attitude - it's really shocking just how much attitude these children have; my mother would have killed me for treating adults with such disrespect at their age...or any age, for that matter! They were working on geometric art with an emphasis on acute, obtuse and right angle.

It was a good day overall - even if I did get hit by a car on my way home. I was crossing when a car pulled up and the driver looked both ways but forgot to check in front of him. No worries though; it was basically a tap and my cane took most of the damage (a little dent, no big).

I got paid on Wednesday although, naturally, mistakes were made and I've been talking with my consultant since trying to work everything out. I can't wait (Note: Sarcasm) to fill out next week's expense claims - should be ever so much fun after last week's fiasco. The online expense claim went awry and...well, let's just say it wasn't pretty and JSA had to cancel the form and resubmit one on my behalf. Thank the gods I got to be a faceless nitwit over the internet instead of in person or over the phone. Monday, when I fill out this week's form, I'll have to call them while I do it to be sure I get it right. Gah, bureaucracy - such hassles!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

One Week Down

Today is Saturday which means that my first week teaching has come to a close. It was quite the adventure, I have to say. I worked four days - Monday through Thursday - at four different schools, the first of which you've already heard all about. After Monday, I woke every morning at 6:15AM and made my way over to the nearest Underground station to wait for my call and, when it came, off I'd go. Wednesday was the worst of these day - a drunk dum found his way over to me and started to pet me, running his hand over my hair. I moved away from him but he followed and ultimately security had to escort him out of the station. Fun times. I'll be picking up travel sized hair spray as soon as I see it.

I got lost. A lot. Most of the time this was the result of my consultant telling me to ask the bus driver who would either have no clue what I was talking about or wouldn't be able to speak to English. On Tuesday they asked me to take a taxi but neglected to tell me I'd be needing cash for said taxi (who refused to accept my consultant's credit card over the phone) so I had to make a last minute switch to a bus route instead. Needless to say I was little late that day. Wednesday's issue was the driver telling me to get off the bus way, way, way too soon but, hey, Thursday? Thursday I did not get lost. Thursday rocked.

The teaching itself has been pretty straight forward. Tuesday, I had a kindergarten class who basically played in between hearing stories and working on small assignments like explaining what made a good friend and putting the words in "I like my mum" in the correct order. On Wednesday, I was in a Year Two classroom taking over for a teacher who was preparing for parent interviews that evening.  I did a drama lesson that tied into their literacy lesson and assisted during a math lesson and a community lesson. There was also an hour  where I was rotated into a kindergarten class where we worked on counting. Thursday was a Year One classroom  where we did lots of work on writing instructions and creating patterns. It was also the first time I actually had something to mark at the end of the day. Each day was something new and different, but combined they were pretty much the same.  I enjoyed gaining the experience and having the opportunity to be a part of these schools, even for just the day.

I am very excited for Monday and what the new week will bring - hopefully it will find me working full days for the whole week.

On the home front, things are going well. There is still some tension, uncertainty and awkwardness colouring my interactions with the roomies. It's reminding me a lot of my first day of high school. Admittedly, my social skills where my peers are concerned are not all that great to begin with so its definitely a challenge for me to do the bonding thing. Once the paychecks start and I have more funds to work with - more possibilities open to me -  hopefully I'll have better luck thawing the social scene. Or maybe I'll just release my inner Blair Whaldorf and take it from there.

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Day

I just returned from my first day out in the field, so to speak. I woke up at 6:00AM this morning (stop laughing – I really did) and then sat about waiting for 7:30 when I was supposed to call either of my consultants to be sure they knew I was most definitely in play (their suggestion – I’m not overeager…okay, I am, but not that obviously.) Sean told me to sit tight and he was sure he’d have something for me soon. Half hour later, he called back to tell me and set me off to my first job. And I only got lost twice (the first time because there weren’t any street signs and the second time because Sean’s direction stopped a turn too soon)!

Today, I was a teaching assistant in a Year 4 (…they were eight and nine years old, make of that what you will) class. Basically, I had one student as my charge and had the opportunity to watch a legitimate veteran classroom teacher and get a feel for how to go about things when my turn as the classroom teacher comes (hopefully tomorrow). There were a lot of students in the class and my charge had the attention span of a goldfish on a sugar rush. There was Literacy first thing which focused on conjunctives (called “connectives” here) and how to writing the beginning of a story. Recess was next followed by Math (they drew shapes) and Music (they learned to beat specific rhythms on drums). At lunch (which was boring) a chunk of students got hot meals as the gym was turned into something of impromptu cafeteria. The day ended with Technology (they made Power Point about the various systems in the body) and Art (they made collages of their dreams).

And, yup, that was my first day. Not much to report, really. Altogether it was something of a letdown but I think that it provided a great opportunity for observation that I’m positive will be of great benefit and advantage in days to come.

In the meanwhile, its back to anxiety and nervousness as I wait for tomorrow and (hopefully) my first turn in the driver’s seat.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Induction Day

Yesterday was much better. I went with my roommates to Engage Education’s Induction Day and on the way I noticed that a café around the corner from the house offers Wi Fi – FINALLY! Will definitely be going to check that out tomorrow. A university was hosting Induction Day in one of their lecture halls and there was something of a relay as Engage consultants took turns leading us where we needed to be. Craig was first, waiting right by the gate, and told me right away that he’d received an email from my mom who said she hadn’t heard from me and was worried. I had warned him that my mom worried easily and was not at all surprised by this. He told me he’d give me his phone later and I could email back that I was okay.

We went into where the workshops were to be held and I ended up sitting next to a girl name Christa who had been in North Bay along with my roommates. She asked me if everything was okay since I seemed a little choked up and I explained about my mom. Immediately, she pulled out her phone, loaded its web browser and told me to go ahead and email her. I could have kissed her! It was such a generous and wonderful thing to do and I wasted no time dropping my mom a line. Christa and I chatted some more and she turned out to be really great and, dang, I finally made myself friend! And, for the record, yes, I sucked at friend-making in elementary school too. Christa has been over hear almost a month now, but only started at the schools this last week or so. Unfortunately, she works in the Southeast – totally the opposite end of the city from me – but we exchanged emails and cell numbers so that we’d each have someone to turn to for support when we need it.

The workshops – which was really just one long lecture divided into four parts by snack breaks – were interesting and gave me a good framework of how it will likely go in the schools next week with a healthy helping of advise thrown on top for good measure. They were run by two school heads – one from a secondary school, one from a junior school – who had a wealth of personal experience and knowledge to draw on. It was great, and the food offered was pretty great too.

After the workshops everyone was headed over to a bar for drinks. I hung back to get my phone sorted out and they ended up giving me a new one  rather than trying to figure out what was wrong with the old one. This one claims to have £1 of credit but Charlie, the JSA rep I talked to this time around, said the £10 credit should come along soon enough. I have my doubts but, hey, it’s more than the zero credit first phone had. Also listened to explain how expense claims work to Christa – basically, the government taxes your net salary twenty per cent (yup, seriously, 20%), so the expense claims serve to lower what’s to be taxable net down to a minimum of £250 (minimum wage). This means that if I make £440 in a week and can claim, say, £200 in expenses, I get taxed on £240 instead of the full £440 for that week. Between this, the internet and the bank I am really starting to miss the simplicity of Canada.

Christa and I, along with another group of teachers, tagged along with Craig and another consultant to the bar…mostly because they knew where it was and we didn’t. Engage covered the drinks – I probably broke the bank with the two cokes I had, while Christa had a Smirnoff first and later a coke. Christa also sprang for food – a cheese pizza (they gave new meaning to flat bread!) and fries – that we split. I offered to pay half but she argued that she’d already worked a week and been paid while mine was still pending. That girl is way too nice for her own good.
After a couple of hours, and with the noise so loud you couldn’t think let alone chat, Christa and I had both had enough and decided to head home. She had GPS on her phone so it wasn’t too hard to get ourselves back to the train station, although naturally we needed two separate stations but everything worked out. I stopped by a Sainbury’s (grocery store – one is supposed to open just up the street from the house next week) that was right beside the train station and picked up a 2L bottle of Pepsi (£1), a package of sliced chicken breast and another of sliced turkey breast (2 for £3), a litre of semi skimmed milk (£0.89), a small tub of peanut butter (£1.49), a loaf of bread (£0.85) and a bag of 6 small flavour ripe tomatoes (£1) for a total of £8.77. I asked a train employee for the best route back to the house and, bang, I was back by 9:30PM.

Took a shower, snuggled up in bed with Sherlock on my DVD player and my laptop to write up some more blog posts. Despite getting teary and choked up when Craig mentioned my mom being worried for me, I have now made it two days – three if you count today – without actual crying – I consider this a win.  Roommates went off to find a library…I think…and run some errands. Tiffany showed me how to work the stove (which, apparently, is called a “hub” here) this morning – it’s a scary thing that involves gas and sparks so, no, I’m not a fan. I braved it anyway and had porridge for breakfast. Tomorrow is my first day teaching and I’m really excited…and scared…but mostly excited. I’m most worried I’ll sleep through my alarm – EMBARASSING! – and lose out. No idea yet where I’ll be or what grade I’ll be working with.

I’m heading out now to test out the Wi Fi at that café around the corner I mentioned yesterday. Fingers crossed – maybe I’ll even luck out and chat my mom on Google Chat!

{UPDATE: Found the cafe, got the internet, updated my blog but missed the chance to chat with mom. Due to lack of outlet and battery life limitations, I have to go home now! Still, was nice to see civilization goes on without me, LOL - even got angry messages from siblings for not making contact sooner...and leaving in the first place because, of course, he waits until AFTER I go to tell me to stay. Didn't cry - just got teary eyed. Go me!)